Alex Cross (2012) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies

Alex Cross (2012)

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Alex Cross (2012) phallic

Let's take a step back before we delve into the unholy train wreck that is Alex Cross and discuss a narrative cliche. Those of you follow movies may be unaware of it, but in more male dominated media (like, say, comic books) there's a contrivance called a "Woman in Refrigerator". What happens is that a sympathetic, innocent woman will be brutally murdered in the course of the story to give male characters a motivation.

This is a tireless cliche; hell, it proves our strong male heroes are sensitive, compassionate, and it gives them to murder someone in the name of revenge guilt free. It's instant character motivation and sympathy, all for the price of one woman with bright white teeth.

Did I say one woman? Excuse me for that since Alex Cross employs this hoary misogynist plot point not once but three times in the course of its running time. Both of our lead characters get off their duffs thanks to their beloved nice female compatriots being murdered, and, by golly, they sure do show that mad serial killer who's boss.

Matthew Fox puts the crazy in "Jesus God, that actor must be crazy."

That mad killer is "Picasso", an unhinged individual who Matthew Fox plays to the hilt. He looks like he cut a ping pong ball in half, doodled with some marker, and replaced his own eyes with the results. Picasso likes leaving cryptic drawings and ranting about pain and just about every other cliche you can tick off your mad killer list.

He's met by profiler Alex Cross (Tyler Perry), who turns out to be jaw droppingly bad at his job. He completely misreads the killer and then decides to engage in a revenge fest after a significant other of his is eliminated in another revenge play.

Picasso helpfully reminds Cross of an old saying that the man seeking revenge should dig two graves. This is in the movie because people talk to each other in movies and this is an example of things that people would say to each other. It has no payoff, but functions as a way for the composer to know where to place the musical stings.

Sweet jacket.

Cross's partner is Tommy Kane (Edward Burns), and you've probably never met two grown men who're supposed to be childhood friends ever act with as much awkwardness. They both acquit themselves nicely whenever they're not pretending like they've known each other for more than a few days, and while their lines and motivation are hackneyed, at least they halfheartedly give it a shot.

But they don't have a whole lot to work with. The dialogue is tone deaf, often doubling back upon itself to render any points made moot. None of the characters exist much outside of their motivations, and the film's ideas of what constitute witty dialogue is well represented by this exchange between a drug dealer and Cross:

"I want my attorney!"

And he then proceeds to beat the dealer until he gives him the information he wants. Motions are made that Cross and Kane have gone rogue, though the film alternatively has most of the characters forget that when it seems unnecessary to provide tension.

"Hi, uh, friend." "Yes. Friends. That is what we are."

That takes me to the most important aspect of the film, which is director Rob Cohen's attempts to make it wholly ludicrous at every possible turn. The most demonstrative moment of the film is when Cross is having Picasso's location read off to him over the phone by a coworker. The coworker, talking into the phone while starring at Google maps, is barely being held in frame by a camera apparently deep in the throes of an epileptic attack.

This is a good rule of thumb for the film, as every action scene is blurry, shaken close-ups, and every emotional beat is framed with a deaf ear. Cohen is an action director who's made a name for himself as a proprietor of over-the-top entertainment, and both his The Fast and the Furious and XXX speak well of his abilities to turn goofiness into something engaging. The central ethos of Alex Cross, though, is about a thinking man coming to terms with his own savagery, and its such an uninspired plot that it drags all of the fun out of itself.

At several points during Alex Cross the thought did cross my mind as to whether or not the movie may actually be a brilliant parody of rote cop thrillers; hell, I was chuckling often enough. But Tyler Perry's charisma and acting chops are too refined for the rest of the movie, and that subverts the movie's ability to subvert itself.

Perry is too good an actor for this movie. And those are words I'd never thought I'd write.

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Posted by Danny

Comments (4) Trackbacks (0)
  1. Good review Danny. This movie is just lazy. In a way, it’s entertaining but the shaky-cam got in the way of everything too much and everything else just felt like it was from an episode of CSI.

  2. This movie is the most misogynist piece of crap I’ve seen in ages. Every single woman in the movie gets tortured and/or killed to further the plot. I wanted my money back.

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